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IB Physics Exam Breakdown of Exam Content [2025+ Exams]

ib physics exam tips ib physics syllabus 2025+
IB Physics Exam Breakdown from GradePod. The left side features text stating, IB Physics Exam Breakdown. Learn which topics are most heavily weighted, effective revision strategies, and essential tips for each paper. 2025+ Syllabus. The right side shows a cheerful Sally Weatherly with curly hair and glasses wearing a light-coloured blouse, smiling excitedly. The background has colourful abstract shapes.

Stop inefficient revision for your IB Physics exams

 

Shocking Fact!

Not all topics in IB Physics are represented equally in the final exam. ALSO, with a few exam tips, you can easily improve your overall score.

 

Keep reading...!

 

If your aim is to get good marks in your IB Physics exams then you need to study strategically. This means you should have a ‘plan of action’ for your exam revision. This plan should be based on evidence and calculated hunches. I'll walk you through a detailed plan below.

 


NOTE:  If you have IB Physics exams in 2024, we have a whole page for you here: https://www.gradepod.com/2024


 

I get it. You don’t have the time or resources to build out a ‘plan of action’ based on evidence and calculated hunches. What does that even mean??

Good news. I’ve got time.

Great news! I’ve built out a ‘plan of action’ and revision strategy for you and it starts with prioritising the most heavily examined concepts (see below!). If you need more help at any time with your preparation for IB Physics, remember that TrIBe Physics takes this study strategy and amplifies it! You'll always know exactly what to study, how to study and when to easily maximise your marks in IB Physics with TrIBe Physics.

 

Prioritise These Topics (If You're Taking IB Exams in 2025)

 

You should know that all topics are not examined equally in the exam - some are more heavily-weighted than others.

The graphs below show the average percentage that each topic in IB Physics makes up of your final IB mark.

 

Standard Level: Topic Order

 

Bar chart showing the distribution of teaching hours for IB Physics Standard Level topics. The chart is from GradePod with the logo and 'Ace Your Exams' at the top right. Topics include A - Space, Time and Motion, B - The Particulate Nature of Matter, C - Wave Behaviour, D - Fields, E - Nuclear and Quantum Physics and Scientific Investigation. Each topic has subcategories with different bar heights indicating the percentage of teaching hours. The chart highlights the variation in emphasis on different topics within the IB Physics SL syllabus. At the bottom, a note reads, Percentages shown are an indicator of how many teaching hours are assigned to each topic by the examiners.

The graph above lays out the percentage of teaching hours assigned to each IB Physics SL topic, showing their significance in the syllabus.

 
Standard Level: Most Important Topics

In the IB Physics SL syllabus, more teaching hours have been allocated to the following:

  • A.2 - Forces and Momentum
  • A.1 - Kinematics
  • A.3 - Work, Energy and Power
  • D.2 - Electric and Magnetic Fields
  • E.3 - Radioactive Decay
 
Standard Level: Least Important Topics

These topics in the IB Physics SL syllabus have fewer teaching hours:

  • C.5 - Doppler Effect
  • C.1 - SHM
  • C.2 - Wave Model

 

Higher Level: Topic Order

 

Bar chart showing the distribution of teaching hours for IB Physics Higher Level topics. The chart is from GradePod with the logo and 'Ace Your Exams' at the top right. Topics include A - Space, Time and Motion, B - The Particulate Nature of Matter, C - Wave Behaviour, D - Fields, E - Nuclear and Quantum Physics and Scientific Investigation. Each topic has subcategories with different bar heights indicating the percentage of teaching hours. The chart highlights the variation in emphasis on different topics within the IB Physics HL syllabus. At the bottom, a note reads, Percentages shown are an indicator of how many teaching hours are assigned to each topic by the examiners.

 
Higher Level: Most Important Topics

More teaching hours in the IB Physics HL syllabus are given to:

  • D.2 - Electric and Magnetic Fields
  • D.1 - Gravitational Fields
  • E.3 - Radioactive Decay
  • C.3 - Wave Phenomena
 
Higher Level: Least Important Topics

Less emphasis in the IB Physics HL syllabus is on:

  • C.2 - Wave Model
  • E.4 - Electromagnetic Induction
  • C.4 - Standing Waves and Resonance
  • C.5 - Doppler Effect

 

Recommendations

  1. You want to start by making sure you have thoroughly understood the most heavily examined concepts listed above, either during lessons or when working independently at home. Make revision notes on these. Click here if you need help on how to write effective revision notes
  2. If you are struggling with the most heavily examined topics, you can overcome these difficulties in a few hours with the right strategies.

 

 


 

Strategies for Paper 1A

 

At the end of your two year course, you will sit two papers for IB Physics. Each paper has its own quirks and trends that we can use to revise strategically using our ‘plan of action’. This will allow you to maximise your marks and prevent you from wasting time on inefficient revision in your short term revision (i.e. days/weeks before exams).

 

FACTS about Paper 1A (STANDARD LEVEL):

  • Paper 1A and paper 1B are to be completed together without interruptions.
  • Paper 1A will contain 25 multiple choice questions and it recommended that you spend an average of 2 minutes per question.
  • You should allocate yourself 50 minutes for this section of Paper 1.
  • Paper 1A makes up 20% of your final IB Physics mark.
  • Paper 1A is designed to be difficult and around 50% of questions required multiple steps.
  • Given the difficulty of paper, it's likely that the grade boundaries will be quite low for Paper 1A
  • You are allowed a calculator and you'll be given a clean data booklet

 

FACTS about Paper 1A (HIGHER LEVEL):

  • Paper 1A and paper 1B are to be completed together without interruptions.
  • Paper 1A will contain 40 multiple choice questions and it recommended that you spend an average of 2 minutes per question.
  • You should allocate yourself 80 minutes for this section of Paper 1.
  • Paper 1A makes up 24% of your final IB Physics mark.
  • Paper 1A is designed to be difficult and around 50% of questions required multiple steps.
  • Given the difficulty of paper, it's likely that the grade boundaries will be quite low for Paper 1A
  • You are allowed a calculator and you'll be given a clean data booklet

 

ADVICE for Paper 1A

  • Prioritise the most commonly examined topics above in your revision
  • Use gradegorrilla.com to practice multiple choice questions for the most commonly examined topics.
  • You only have between 2 minutes per question – skip if you really don’t know where to start.
  • Don’t panic

 


 

Strategies for Paper 1B

 

Paper 1B is examined at the same time as Paper 1A. With some simple preparation, students should find it to be a welcome relief from the exertions of the other papers. I can help make it even easier for you...

 

FACTS about Paper 1B:

  • For BOTH Standard and Higher Level, Paper 1B is 20 marks and you should allocate 40 minutes to complete this section. 
  • For Standard level, Paper 1B is worth 16% of your final IB Physics grade
  • For Higher level, Paper 1B is worth 12% of your final IB Physics grade
  • You are allowed a calculator and data booklet
  • The paper is made up of data-based questions

 

Paper 1B Data-Based Question - EXAMPLE

 

Example Paper 1B data-based question in IB Physics about the change of electrical resistance with temperature.This is part a of the past exam question, worth 3 marks

Example Paper 1B data-based question in IB Physics about the change of electrical resistance with temperature.This is part b, c, d and e of the past exam question, worth 12 marks

 

ADVICE for Paper 1B

 

  • Paper 1B is easier than Papers 1A and 2
  • You can improve very quickly by simply taking a huge bank of past exam data-based questions and working through them. The whole process will probably take you about two hours to fully understand the pattern of a data-based question. 
  • We have a full bank of these questions and a two hour tutorial to follow in TrIBe Physics, which will get you fully prepared for this part of the exam.
  • Learn the following definitions:
    • Accuracy
    • Precision
    • Random Error
    • Systematic Error
    • Fundamental Unit
    • Derived Unit
    • Absolute Uncertainty
    • Fractional Uncertainty
    • Percentage Uncertainty

 

 


 

Strategies for Paper 2

 

Many IB Physics students have had nightmares about Paper 2. Let’s break it down and see if we can be strategic about how to prepare for Paper 2 in the shorter term (i.e. the weeks and days before the exam)

 

FACTS about Paper 2:

  • The Standard Level Paper takes 1.5 hours and is worth 55 marks. It makes up 44% of your final IB Physics mark.
  • The Higher Level Papers takes 2.5 hours and is worth 90 marks. It makes up 44% of your final IB Physics mark.
  • It consists of short-answer and extended response questions
  • Calculators are allowed and the data booklet is necessary!
  • It is designed to be difficult and you probably won’t finish it...
  • Grade boundaries are usually very low for paper 2 (Averaging around 59% for a 7 in HL and around 63% for a 7 in SL)

 

 

ADVICE for Paper 2

 

  • Prioritise the most commonly examined topics from above in your revision
  • Practice exam-style questions fully in the weeks before the exam. Here's how to use IB Physics past papers to improve your exam technique.
  • Choose the question order carefully.
  • Skip a question if you really don’t know where to start.
  • Identify the topic of the question and open your data booklet to that topic.
  • If you’re stuck on a graph – you’ll most likely have to calculate the gradient or area
  • Be careful with units on graph axes (e.g. mA instead of A)
  • Don’t panic

 


 

Get Your Grade

Once you've started applying these tips and working through complete past papers, you need to apply a method to help you improve your exam technique and, ultimately, your IB Physics final grade.

Your IB Physics Exam Plan

  1. Complete a timed past paper for each Paper 1A, 1B and 2
  2. Mark your times paper using the official mark scheme
  3. Use the GradePod IB Physics Grade Calculator to help you identify your current predicted grade (make a guesstimate for your IA score)
  4. Use GradePod's free Magic Marking Grid to help you identify your weaknesses in both concept knowledge and exam technique
  5. Focus solely on those weaknesses for the next few study session
  6. Repeat the process

This IB Physics exam plan relies upon your identifying and improving your weaknesses. If you need help with this, you'll get ALL the help you need (including direct access to me, Sally Weatherly) inside TrIBe Physics. The exam plan is the same inside TrIBe Physics; however, you'll get concept videos, screencast solutions, HUGE banks of past paper questions mapped to the IB Physics Syllabus 2025 AND you'll be able to ask me any questions, any time. 

 

TrIBe Physics Logo

If your IB Physics exams are soon, let me reassure you that TrIBe Physics can make a big difference even in a matter of weeks.

Screenshot of an email sent to GradePod | Sally Weatherly. The email reads: Hi Sally, I am a NOV22 student who managed to get a solid 7 in IB Physics SL exam. I followed you from day 1 of IB, and I purchased your course approximately two months before the exam. It changed the game for me... Thanks for everything. The email expresses gratitude for the impact of the TrIBe Physics course on the student's success in the IB Physics SL exam.

 

Join TrIBe Physics Here!

 
 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Start being strategic in your revision and you’ll be more efficient and effective in your results. In the months and weeks before the exams, prioritise the most heavily examined topics. You’ll want to make effective revision notes on these topics and practice exam-style questions, split by topic.

In the weeks preceding the exams, your study strategy will alter slightly, depending on the intricacies of each paper. Past papers will become a focus of revision and the most heavily examined topics will change.

Have fun!

Sally Signature in curly handwriting

 

Don't forget to download your
FREE IB Physics Syllabus 2025 Checklist

GET YOUR COPY HERE
Thumbnail for the IB Physics Complete Checklist with a female student smiling and holding books, advertising GradePod's Free Learning Objectives Checklist for exams in May 2025, featuring the text 'Know What You Need to Study in the New IB Physics Syllabus with Our Easy-to-Understand Guide. Download Now!